A writer like you: K. M. Frost
Meet K. M. Frost, an author of young adult fiction with a passion for good music and chocolate.
Her idea of a perfect day would be sitting down with her laptop and newest project for hours on end—preferably in Europe somewhere—with a generous serving of chocolate on hand. Some of her favorite books are Percy Jackson, The False Prince, and Harry Potter. She is the author of the dystopian YA series The Reality Dreamers Trilogy, and is currently working on a YA fantasy novel.
In this interview, we chat about people-watching to improve your dialogue, transitioning from pantsing to plotting, favorite outlining techniques, how to fuel projects with your excitement, the multiple-project approach, and using readers as resources.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Tell us about your trilogy.
The Reality Dreamers Trilogy follows a teenage boy named Jonas who has vivid and terrifying nightmares. When he discovers there are other kids having these same nightmares, they join forces to explore the dream world and figure out why they are sharing this dream.
Reality Dreamers will be available for free electronic download on Amazon from Sept 2 - Sept 6!
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I have loved stories of all kinds my whole life—stories told through music, art, film, and—of course—books. When you hear or read a story, you are transported to another world filled with amazing people, cultures, and adventures. I wrote my first story when I was 12 (it was a whole 2 pages!), and I just didn’t stop. I decided to publish The Reality Dreamers Trilogy after sharing it with some family members who really enjoyed it, and I thought there might be other people out there who would like to read Jonas’s story, too.
What have you learned about writing so far?
Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about writing—everything from sentence structure and outlining to character building and pacing. But overall, I’ve learned that writing is the way I cope with life. I need stories to make it through the everyday challenges the universe throws at me, and I know there are others that feel the same. So despite the occasional bout of writer’s block or outlining disasters, I keep writing, because there are stories I need to tell, and if I can improve someone else’s day by doing it, all the better.
Do you have any tips for writing dialogue?
The key to writing dialogue that flows and transports a reader is understanding how people interact with one another in real life. I love to people-watch. I love to see how people talk to each other—their body language, tone, facial expressions. It’s really fascinating to watch. When you have a decent grasp on human interactions, you can incorporate that into your writing and your characters will leap right off the page. You would never sit down to write a historical novel (or any novel, really) without doing at least a little research. We research history and cultures and ideas so that we can understand them and incorporate them effectively into our stories.
The same goes for human nature and interactions. If you don’t understand people, how can you expect to write a realistic character? Luckily, this research is fun and easy. When you go to the store next, or talk to your neighbor, just take a minute to notice how these conversations and interactions go, take some mental notes, then incorporate these details into your writing and watch your characters come to life!
Do you have any tips for outlining?
Outlining is something I only recently started doing. For years I avoided outlining—and not just because I thought it was boring and difficult. I honestly didn’t think I needed to outline. I’ve always been more of a discovery writer than a plotter. And it worked out pretty well, actually. But in the midst of one of my projects, I found myself stuck and turned around and totally at a loss to know where my story needed to go next. So I dipped my toes into outlining, and I found that I actually really liked it! It was like getting an aerial view of my book and made it much easier to see when the storyline was veering off course, or where the excitement was a little thin. I still do a lot of discovery writing, but plotting helps me avoid long sessions of rethinking and revising, and even has helped reduce writer's block!
There are an endless number of ways to outline, and different methods work better for different people. I would encourage you to ask other writers what works for them, read blogs and get as many ideas as you can, then try them out to see what works for you and your project. For me, I love the Story Engines method, where you identify the different parts and stages of your story (preparation phase, reactive phase, proactive phase, and conclusion phase), and the 3 “game changers” that bridge the gap between each of these phases. It makes it easier for me to break down my story into smaller, more manageable pieces, and then focus on one piece at a time.
Some of the other methods I like are writing each important scene or moment on recipe cards, and then organizing the scenes in different orders to see if you have any holes in your story, or if there’s a better way to plot it; bullet point lists and timelines are also helpful for me. Basically, what it comes down to is experimenting and finding what things work for you. Everyone thinks and writes and plots differently—the important thing is that you do what’s right for you and you story!
Do you have any tips for overcoming writer’s block?
I kind of beat the whole outlining thing into the ground, so I won’t go into that any more here, though it should be mentioned, because it really has helped me. Another important thing is getting excited about your story and your characters and your world. If you’re not excited to dive into this story, it’s going to be really hard to find the motivation to block out distractions and get writing. So, if you find yourself disillusioned with a project, try to remind yourself why you were so excited about it in the beginning. If you can rediscover that excitement, writer’s block will melt away.
Something to keep in mind is that sometimes you just need a break—whether that means setting aside your writing to go read a book or watch a movie or go for a scenic drive—whatever it takes for you to get rid of the stress that’s hindering your creativity. I also think it’s a good idea to have multiple projects going at once, so if you run into a snag in a storyline or need to take a deeper look at a character, or if you’re just dealing with mean old writers block, you can keep writing while you figure out what your other story needs. I always have at least 2 projects I’m working on at a time, and maybe some cover design projects on the side. Variety is good, and sometimes all you really need to beat writer’s block is some space to breathe.
What are you currently working on?
My writing progress has slowed down a bit since I’ve restarted school, but I’m definitely still writing (I have to!). But my current projects (I told you I always have at least 2 going at a time!) are a YA fantasy about a prince who is framed for his father’s murder and consequently becomes an outlaw, and a YA contemporary romance about a boy who is sent to live with his grandparents when his mom is imprisoned; he just wants to escape, but he meets a girl who slowly begins to change his perspective on life.
What writing advice would you give to other writers?
Just write. If you’re struggling with a particular project, talk about it with friends and other writers--or even just other readers. We’re writing these books for readers—they are an invaluable resource. Write what you want to write. You do your best writing when you’re excited and impassioned, so don’t let logic (or anything else) dictate what you “should” be writing. This sounds corny, but follow your heart. Seriously. Write what you love, and love what you write. Because as long as your writing brings you joy, you are a successful writer!
Where can we connect with you?
To free the writer, let’s try one of Kimberly’s favorite outlining techniques. Maybe you’ll discover that outlining unlocks something new in your story.